Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Always on the lookout to squeeze the poor even further the McGuinty government of Ontario has recently received a commission report of a plan to tighten the screws from former bank executive Don Drummond. It was all that could be expected. Here is the reaction to this report from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
Defeating Drummond's Dreadful Directions‏

Former Toronto Dominion Bank economist, Don Drummond, has now handed over
his report to the McGuinty government. As we might have expected it is a
call to arms for the advocates of austerity. It suggests cuts to social
services that would make Harris’s Tory government look like social
reformers. Harris cut the Provincial Budget by less than 4% during one
term of office while Drummond wants a 17% reduction kept up for a decade
and a half. Among other drastic recommendations it calls for limiting
annual spending growth for social assistance to 0.5% until 2018, despite
the fact that those living on social assistance are still suffering from
the 21.6% cuts to assistance from the Harris years, which the Liberals
have only made worse. Nowadays a person living on welfare in Ontario is
making 55% less than they did in the early 90s, when the rates were
already far below the poverty line. Also in Drummond’s cross-hairs are
ODSP and the Child Tax Benefit.

Through all the rhetoric of ‘’overspending’’ it is important to remember
that this economic crisis was not caused by us. After all, it is
noteworthy that the budget was balanced before the crisis of 2008-09. It
was not caused by welfare recipients, it was not caused by organized
labour and it was not caused by public services. We are living through a
financial crisis that was caused by the rich, and while the banks are
getting bailed out we are being bled dry to pay for their greed.

The Drummond report is a road-map to austerity and if it is not swiftly
defeated its legacy will haunt us for decades to come. At the same time it
is important not to stay fixated on the Drummond report. We know that the
Liberals have been planning to implement cut-back measures long before
this report came out. It is imperative that we keep a close eye on the
upcoming budget and root out every attack directed against us in the name
of austerity.

The time is crucial for us to coordinate our efforts and organize
ourselves as effectively as possible to mount a serious fightback.

Overview of the days of action

This is not the first time radical groups, community groups and labour
unions have been called to fight together. In the mid to late 1990s in
response to the drastic cuts to social services and attacks on workers put
forth by the Harris government these groups had to band together to mount
opposition. What started as small protests against the PC government soon
swelled to one of the largest mobilization periods in Ontario’s history,
with hundreds of thousands of people joining in the fight. Unfortunately
this mobilization, though ground-breaking in many ways, was not enough to
defeat the Tories and they were not forced to retreat. As powerful as the
Days of Action were, the present struggle against austerity will need to
learn from past shortcomings as well as strengths. Unlike the
mobilization against Harris, the struggles we take up to-day will need to
escalate to the point where those implementing austerity face a level of
economic and political disruption that creates for them a social, economic
and political catastrophe. We can’t stop at moral appeals but must force
Bay Street and its political representatives at Queen’s Park to retreat
through decisive mass mobilization

The Common Sense Revolution cuts were pushed through and we are living
with its legacy today. In real terms people living on social assistance
today have less spending power than they did during the height of the
Harris-era cuts. Capitalism has re-doubled its attacks on organized labour
and vital public services are being cut and threatened daily. If we fail
again this time around, however, the results will be far more devastating.

Proposal for a plan to move forward

We in OCAP believe that the only way we can truly defeat the current wave
of austerity measures is to build a movement that is willing and committed
to pushing back in meaningful ways. Symbolic rallies and editorials will
only get us so far, and social assistance reviews are not going to help us
push back against austerity. It has even been admitted by Lankin that a
raise in social assistance rates is not even on the table. Rather, to beat
this beast we have to put forward a plan of resistance that is going to
disrupt every stage of their agenda, we have to be willing to confront
these politicians and decision makers head on at every single chance we
can take.

On March 16th OCAP, with a wide array of community groups and labour
groups will be marching from the ministry of housing down to the financial
district. In a show of unity we will be marching together against the
austerity measures of the liberal provincial government, we will be
demanding a raise in OW and ODSP rates, as well as quality public
services. But marches alone are not going to win this battle. Other
community groups have to be willing to take up the fight in meaningful
ways, unions have to be willing to strike against this government, and
everyone has to be committed to taking this to its logical conclusion! We
are calling on all our allies, all labour unions, all activists, all
community organizations to help us defeat this government and the
austerity measures it represents. Together we can fight to win!

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Kreditanstalt said...

"We are living through a
financial crisis that was caused by the rich, and while the banks are
getting bailed out we are being bled dry to pay for their greed..."


So if in 2008-2009 the banks had been allowed, laissez-faire, to fail - and I have always advocated that too! - the public and the governments would go merrily along spending, taxing and borrowing as before?

The crisis - and it's only just beginning - was caused by DEBT. By western society, collectively, living a high life on borrowed money, far beyond anything meagre western productivity levels could support.

Not just financiers, either. Perhaps there simply isn't enough profit generated, anywhere, to support a large public sector. Or every family owning a car (or two, or...). Or education of the present standards at public expense for everyone.

It has been pointed out that, even if 100% of the wealth of "the rich" were confiscated/stolen, it wouldn't be anywhere near enough to pay down even sovereign debt.

I don't know whether, at root, this is a natural resource scarcity-driven fall in living standards or one resulting from the unproductive use of debt to prop up unsustainable patterns of consumption.

THAT is an open question...The Limits to Growth revisited?

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